A few months out of college, Gus Navarro moved from East Lansing to Detroit and settled into a career path – one he hoped to ride into retirement.
Or so he thought.
After spending a year as a mentor at Detroit’s Osborn High School, Navarro recognized that K-12 education wasn’t his calling.
“I thought I was going to be a teacher and really pursue education as my profession,” he said. “Then I sort of realized that I had this interest in communications and maybe doing media studies, so I decided that I wanted to go back to grad school.”
In 2016, Navarro enrolled in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University.
“I went to WSU for the communication school because I knew I wanted to live in Detroit and I was interested in doing something broadcast-media related,” said Navarro, M.A. ’19, who wanted to land a post-degree job at a local radio station.
Then came the day he saw an ad on a social media site.
“I applied for an ESPN Radio position I saw on LinkedIn and, to be honest, wasn't even expecting a reply,” said Navarro who filled out the application on a whim. “But I heard back from them and went through the whole interview process.”
Soon, Navarro was on the move again. This time to Connecticut, where he was hired for a radio gig with the self-described worldwide leader in sports. Nine months later, he was moving up the corporate ladder and into an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“I’m living my dream job right now,” said Navarro, who was promoted last year to associate producer at ESPN Films. “I’m getting to do things that my younger self, 10 to 20 years ago, couldn’t probably believe. I think about that a lot and it’s a great perspective to keep in mind. I’m at ESPN, living in New York City. It’s amazing.”
Navarro, who credits much of his career success to those he met – like professors Kelly Donnellan and Juanita Anderson – and the opportunities he received while working on his master’s, is one of several recent graduates featured in a current Wayne State billboard campaign throughout metro Detroit.
At Wayne State, Navarro was a graduate assistant with University Television in the Office of Marketing and Communications and an associate producer for WDET, where he pitched segment ideas, booked guests and conducted on-air interviews. He was also part of a team that won top prize in the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Student Design Summit, serving as producer and editor of the three-minute video proposing how to make the DIA and surrounding area more modern and accommodating.
“I got to experience working in video and audio, so I learned how telling stories in these different mediums are similar, but also how they are different. This turned out to be an invaluable experience because what I'm doing now combines both types of storytelling.”
Navarro said he enjoyed his Wayne State experience a lot, and if he could give advice to current or future Warriors, he’d tell them to get to know their professors and be vocal about things that interest them. “It's OK if you don't have your whole life plan charted out. Put some thought into what inspires you and what you're passionate about. Learn as much as you can and apply yourself. The other things will work themselves out.”